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Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigns amid second accusation of sexual conduct with minor

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NEW YORK — Longtime “Sesame Street” puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned Tuesday afternoon from the Sesame Workshop after a lawsuit was filed in New York District Court by a 24-year-old college student claiming that he engaged in a sexual relationship with Clash over a two-week period while he was underage.

The lawsuit marks the second allegation in as many weeks of Clash having a sexual relationship with a minor.

Kevin Clash

Appearing before a press conference Tuesday, Cecil Singleton said he had met the actor and puppeteer on a gay chat line and had sexual encounters with him over a two-week period while he was still underage.

Singleton also claimed that he had no idea at the time what Clash did for a living.

During the press conference, Singleton’s attorney, Jeff Herman, said he had been contacted by two other potential victims and expected additional legal actions to follow. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

Clash’s exit followed claims made last week by another man in his early 20s that he also had a relationship with Clash when he was 16.

Clash denied that charge, calling it “false and defamatory.” The first accuser, identified by The Smoking Gun as 24-year-old “model/actor” Sheldon Stephens, retracted his claim the day after making the accusation, describing the relationship with Clash as adult and consensual.

Clash, who was the voice an puppeteer for the popular “Elmo” character,” said, in announcing his resignation, that “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

The Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop, a Worldwide American non-profit organization behind the production of several educational children’s programs, including PBS’ long-running “Sesame Street,” reacted Tuesday with this statement:

“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization.

Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”

Since taking over the character in 1985, Clash turned “Elmo” into a major source of revenue for Sesame Workshop, generating more than half of the $75 million in annual sales for the Sesame Street toy line. He has served as the senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain, and in his 28 years with the Sesame Workshop, he has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

Clash, 52, is divorced and the father of a grown daughter; he acknowledged publicly that he is gay when the first allegation against him was made.

It remains unknown who might take over performing as Elmo, however, other Sesame Street puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in.

Sesame Workshop noted, “Elmo is bigger than any one person.”

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23 more reader comments:

  1. I am so sorry to hear that. I hope it’s not true. His career is ruined. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:38pm
  2. Damn…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:40pm
  3. Incredibly sad…I do hope he gets help.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:43pm
  4. Interesting….

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:45pm
  5. didnt some women do this to another celebrity before to get money out of them?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:46pm
  6. Sad

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:52pm
  7. Sick, stupid people. Consumed by greed and complete fuckery.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:53pm
  8. I BELIEVE HE’S INNOCENT. THE GUY CHANGED HIS TUNE WHEN PAID NOW MADE A SECOND CLAIM!?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:56pm
  9. Wow, now all those poor victims come out of the woodwork to collect for “damages.” Ridiculous. Any other guy out there? This wouldn’t be happening.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:58pm
  10. The first one was paid to change his story. Why pay if u r innocent???

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:59pm
  11. omg Elmo NOOOO!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:33pm
  12. Possibly because for too many people in this age of celebrity circuses, accusation might as well be condemnation and sentencing.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:33pm
  13. Absolutely no proof has been given! That’s the saddest part of reading the comments about these allegations. It takes so little to ruin a 30 year legacy of wonderful work.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:38pm
  14. Okay… Now this is sad. Why are they doing this to him if they got no proof against them? Are they trying to extort some money from this guy?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:57pm
  15. Ugh.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:59pm
  16. that sucks…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:11pm
  17. While there is no proof given, He left to protect the Name of Sesame Street and Elmo. ( Or was politely asked to leave before the franchise is marred.) Either way, he is free to resolve the issues, and if vindicated, hopefully rejoin Sesame Street.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:46pm
  18. God damn it!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:06am
  19. I haz a sad….

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 5:15am
  20. Wtf?! Noooooooo!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:51am
  21. I am sad because there is always someone ready to ruin someone else’s life with lies. I know about a student that accused a teacher touching him. A while after the school asked the teacher to leave he was out work for months. Then the student said he lied because he was mad @ the teacher for giving him bad grade. The teacher couldn’t get a teaching job years after it happened.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:51am
  22. Dude seems like a predator. Wonder if her was ever part of the catholic church?

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 11:19am
  23. They are letting him go.. did he actually do anything wrong?

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:41pm